Speak Lord: Good Shepherd

rosary 3The first reading for today, the 16th Sunday of the year, introduces the theme of the Shepherd and his sheep, which will be heard again in the Psalm sung and the Gospel proclaimed today.

It speaks of bad shepherds and of God as the remedy to their failings.

‘Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered – it is the Lord who speaks! This, therefore, is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds in charge of my people: You have let my flock be scattered and go wandering and have not taken care of them.

Right, I will take care of you for your misdeeds – it is the Lord who speaks! But the remnant of my flock I myself will gather from all the countries where I have dispersed them, and will bring them back to their pastures: they shall be fruitful and increase in numbers. I will raise up shepherds to look after them and pasture them; no fear, no terror for them any more; not one shall be lost – it is the Lord who speaks!

‘See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
The-Lord-our-integrity.’

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, picks up something of the Lord’s outrage at the lack of care of the flock, the human family. The pastoral care of God’s family is not something we should leave to God, Popes, Bishops or anyone. It is something for which we all have a certain responsibility, but especially the powerful, the rich, the ‘haves’ of this world.

The greater sense of moral outrage expressed in Laudato Si’ is for the poor, those who suffer because of the rich and their (our!) exploitation of natural resources, and damage to the environment.

The Lord’s way is to be our way. It is our challenge and our salvation.

  • For whom can you be a good shepherd?
  • Who is good shepherd for you?

Photograph of window at Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Marylebone.  (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

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